bdrive
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
      ( 2:29 AM ) sankar  
To Do's..

I am planning to do some of these things this week: 1) buy a landline and internet connection from Touchtel or Tata 2) get an annual membership in a nearby swimming club 3) to surrender Tata mobile connection after paying my last bill and the instrument's cost to the company.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2004
      ( 3:48 AM ) sankar  
Saw Sathguru

Along with Geetha, I went to attend Isha Fest at Velliangiri Hills, Coimbatore last Sunday. We stayed there for a day. For the first time, I saw Sathguru Jagi Vasudev, who gave a speech on how the world peace conferences are becoming a joke. He said that there cannot be world peace unless everyone of us feel peace with ourselves first. His speech was very enlightening. I enjoyed the kind of anecdotes he shared with the audience.

I wanted to ask him a question but there was no press meet as such organised. Though, I would have asked him anything I wanted to as he walked past us, I did not do so.

There were over 10,000 people attending the function. The theme of the cultural programmes organised was North America. We had Americans, Mexicans and Canadians performing dances, music, etc.
The Isha Fest, celeberated every year, is basically to commomerate the day when Sathguru had a deep spiritual experience. The actual day was 21st September but since World Peace Conference (WHO observes this?) falls on 19th September, the event was preponned to coincide with that.



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Monday, September 06, 2004
      ( 10:00 PM ) sankar  
September matham

"September matham, September matham, valvin thunbaththai tholaiththu vittom
....Inbam tholainthathu yeppo, kalyanam nadanthathe appooo"

This lyrics from a Tamil song interestingly proved right in my case. I was not feeling well for the last whole month. My mother underwent an operation; my brother lost his job; I was anxious about starting my new venture; my wife was away..staying in our native place (Aadi month). Somehow, I felt lonely, depressed, even feared of death...as I started feeling pain in the chest. Luckily it was all mind-made and the cardiologists (couple of them), general physcians (couple of them again) and ECG machines could found no problem whatsoever with my lub-dub machine. I only needed positive thoughts, (plus pills for sleeping, relieving tension, as prescribed by my doctor).

I joined Isha Foundation's 13-day yoga and meditation programme, which helped a lot. Vijay's mother did some pranic healing. Whenever, I seemed to show a kind of withdrawal symptom, Vijay gave his "laughter therapy" (cracking unbelievably remarkable jokes) making me lol that boosted my health. My colleagues, management, especially, Jai were very cooperative, even though my output came down drastically. I felt greatly relieved after each and every conversation I had with my wife over phone. My father turned out to be a God...he was very helpful. Above all, Saravanan was understanding, stood with me, cheered me up...via mails.

I was feeling great at Isha Foundation's Bava Spandana Programme (which I took part in Coimbatore's Velliangiri Hills after completing the 13-day course at Chennai).

Fine, on 3rd Sep, we moved in to Koyambedu to a 2 bedroom house...nice place..
I am regularly exercising....doing Isha pranayam and meditation. With the grace of Sathguru Jagi Vasudev, I realise that living life at the fullest is our duty, come what may. And I think Iam doing that perhaps better than ever.


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Saturday, July 24, 2004
      ( 2:15 AM ) sankar  
You cannot make a flower bloom

For an Express Computer story on the connection between "stress-free enviornment and bug-free software", I obtained some very valuable inputs from Shri Jaggi Vasudev, founder Isha Foundation, Coimbatore. He was in the US and this is a mail interview (my sincere thanks to Bhuvana, who helped me to get this done). 

Spirituality is considered to be a "subject" that cannot be taught or learnt. Your comments?

To be spiritual is an inner experience.  To be spiritual means to transcend the limitations of the physical.  Transcendence cannot be taught but the methods that lead to the transcendence have to be taught.  It is like: you cannot make a flower bloom but can cultivate the necessary atmosphere for it to bloom.

Some say that meditation is our own nature and it is possible for someone to be in the meditative mode while carrying out his/her routine activities. Do you agree?

Meditation is not something that you do, but something that you become. It is a quality, not an act. If one becomes meditative it will naturally permeate into everything that he does. It is like a fragrance it spreads into everything.  

How does an executive, who has to necessarily set goals, deadlines, etc can probably be unperturbed about the future results and the past experiences as advocated by spiritual scriptures?

It is simple common sense for one to understand that our external situations will never happen 100 percent the way we want them to happen as it involves various ingredients and forces.  

Especially if a person has taken up a role of much activity and much scope as you say a corporate person does, and if he is going to be perturbed whenever things don't happen the way he wants them, he is bound to become a wreck.  

One needs to understand the larger the area and scope of our work becomes you have less and less control over it.  Outside situations are always going to be like this, never totally in our control, but our inner situations where we are the only ingredient can be taken in total control.  

If this is brought forth, our ability to manage the external can be greatly enhanced.  If performance is the priority, equipping oneself to maintain an inner balance is of utmost importance.

The ideal way of getting initiated into spirituality?

In the presence of a Living Master.

How to reconcile the "sole reality" ("'Atman' is the only reality") of spirituality with the other reality of the material world?

You won't have to reconcile with anything that is not yet a living experience for you.  If you assume [something]that which is not in your experience as yet it will only lead to hallucinatory states which are of no spiritual consequence.  If you are serious about making a journey, you need to understand that you can only start the journey from the place you are right now, not from an imaginary point. 

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Friday, July 23, 2004
      ( 1:50 AM ) sankar  
 
The Green Power
 
I wrote a story on CII - Godrej Green Business Centre (CII Godrej GBC), Hyderabad. This is a kind of resource centre for environment products and services, know-hows, etc.
The US Green Building Council has ranked the CII Godrej GBC the "world's greenest building" as it demonstrates leadership in environment management.

A CNN story that I read in this regard says that the new adage that caught the imagination of corporate America is "the greenest industry". Great development!

Hope being green will catch up fast in India as well.

We all can contribute to this cause in so many small ways: saving petrol, switching off that light which is on unnecessarily, buying high-quality water taps, etc.

Check this site if you want to know your ecological footprint. An ecological footprint is "An ecological footprint measures the evidence of our energy use. The evidence is also called an "impact". Every time we use energy there is an impact. We use energy to get food, to keep our homes warm and bright, and to move our cars and stuff around. When measuring our ecological footprint then, we measure not the size of our feet, but the size all of the land we use to get our energy from food, fossil fuels and renewable resources.

I have already started becoming obssessed with the ecological footprint.

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Friday, June 25, 2004
      ( 1:35 AM ) sankar  
How's married life?

When people see me for the first time after my marriage, they usually want to know "(So) how is married life?" My honest answer is that I do not see any big difference yet. Only thing is I am not able to be punctual for a meeting, if I am taking Geetha along. She does not spend too much time on make-up but somehow, she just can't make herself ready on time. The other change is in food - she cooks really well.

Where was the honeymoon?

The next question is where did I go for honeymoon. We did visit places like Coutralam, Kanyakumari, Thiruchendur, Srivilliputur, Sankarankovil, Thriuvannamalai (near Srivilliputur) etc. (We went to Mahaballipuram after we came to Chennai) But that's it. In fact, these were some of the places we thought we should go after marriage.

My father said that he would allow us to visit places like Kanyakumari and Tiruchendur only if somebody else would accompany us along with their families. So Geetha's elder sister and her husband came with us.

It felt great when I noticed that this time, I was packing someone else's clothes also along with mine and arranging things that the other person might require on travel...This caring for someone will be true, henceforth, for the life journey too.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004
      ( 11:50 PM ) sankar  
History Clubs

I went to Pudukkottai to invite a friend for my marriage a couple of weeks back. Those who know Indian history (and those who are Sivaji Ganesan's fans) will remember the courageous Tamil king Kattapomman (who fought against British) and the his betrayer, Yettaiyappan.

From the bus I saw those forts built by the king. My little bit knowledge in history produced profound "images" of the historically significant events that had happened then. The fight, the betrayal, the court scenes, the execution,...

I realised that there is a potential to revive the memories by staging dramas for public regularly every year on a particular day: the day of Kattapomman's capture or death or...

Some kind of History Clubs can be formed in places like Pudukkottai with the initiatives of nearby schools and colleges. The clubs should enact such programmes that could eventually become even tourist attractions - at least, local people will become aware of important events.

It's really sad that we Indians generally do not remember the glory of our past in a right way. Someone wrote in the New Indian Express that neither public nor the government does anything to remember Raja Raja Cholan. If you happen to go to Tirupur, check with the locals where is the place in which Kumaran was attacked to death by British. You will find a small (4 feet) concrete structure with a stone inscription informing in a few lines why there's a structure there. The radius of the place will not be more than 6 feet. That's it.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
      ( 3:12 AM ) sankar  
Mail2inspire

Hello!

This is a reader's digest story: Artist Dean Bracy (US) "opened a bank account with 10,000 one-dollar notes. Each note, as it went into circulation, was carrying his hand-written message: "Where does a dollar go? Send me a postcard!" Bracy also included his address."

Bracy's request interested many people, who sent cards, letters, covers to him with interesting items via post! In a week, on an average, he gets 70 items of all sorts!!

PP Rajesh showed this article to me. Immediately we decided to imitate Bracy's idea. I opened a mail ID: mail2inspire@yahoo.com.

We are planning to write: "What's your inspiration in life?!?!" in as many rupee notes that pass through our hands as possible. We will include this mail ID (mail2inspire@yahoo.com). The idea is to get people write about their inspirations in life. We can create an informal database that can be shared online!

Our request to all of you is that please write this message in whatever currencies you spend (including mail2inspire@yahoo.com).

We promise, we will share whatever e-mails (as and if) we receive to you, if you want.

Thanks in advance! Mail2inspire!




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Sunday, May 23, 2004
      ( 11:56 PM ) sankar  
Fast Track

I just thought I am not doing enough justice to my blog, of late (no new posts, I mean). That's why this usual rambling...

As I was driving to office this morning, I compared how driving (or whatever happens on road) can be compared to doing business.

Like in business, there's a regulator (traffic constable) on road. (It's very, very rare to see a honest regulator).

...Traffic jam on Kodambakkam High Road usually happens because of the break-down of a poorly-maintained Pallavan bus ("Public Sector Unit") or when a private car with a political flag attempts to cross the road from a wrong direction (willingly!). It's the same in business. A lull in is the business equivalent. There are corporations like Pallavan and companies like the car-with-the-flag that break down or disregard rules and halt the progress of other industries on "the same road".

It normally needs a regulator (police constable) to step in and tow away the culprit to restore the normal flow.

A crash on road happens because the drivers are careless, drunk, senseless. Business crashes too happen when CEOs are careless, intoxicated, lose sight...

The criss crossing "nimble" two wheelers on road do look like start-ups. There are slow moving CARporates that - because of their sheer size and that of the road - cannot move ahead like a cycle wallah when on a congested road.

There are all sorts of "players" (from two-wheelers to twelve-wheelers) that are eager to find the loopholes and shortcuts in the life on the fast track.

The one thing that's very diffcult to do on road (and in business) is to follow the rules, giving a damn to whether others are doing it or not. Too big is the pressure exerted on you by the horning vehlices behind threating you to violate the rule for their benefit, when you are waiting for the signal.

A ceo of a software company - it was reported - used to hire new employees only after observing how they ride a two-wheeler on road. That ceo said to have predicted how better he would be on job!

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Friday, May 07, 2004
      ( 12:43 AM ) sankar  
It's all about "interest"

Leena called me yesterday to remind me that there is exactly one more month to go for my marriage. I was pleasantly surprised that she remembered my marriage date, though I told her the date long back. I was not even in touch with her in the past couple of months. However, surprising others is a way of life for Leena. I've learnt that she remembers all her friends' birthdays; relatives' marriage anniversaries, etc.

I have no difficulty in remembering people's names but not "the number stuff" like dates of important occasions. I don't remember even my own birthday until a friend calls me in the morning to greet. I did not remember my would-be's birthday till about ten days after it was over.

"You are good at numbers," I complimented her. But she said that it's a question of interest (and not memory).

Leena told an incident: Once she organised her classmates to sing "happy birthday" for another classmate; and gave him a b'day card that was signed by all of them (She signed in Telugu, after learning from someone how to write the name in that language). This classmate, a Telugu guy, who used to be reserved, and was home-sick, couldn't believe how others came to know of his birthday and why they cared to do all this. The next day, he told Leena (after knowing she was the-girl-behind) that he was extremely happy; and it was the first time in his life that someone gave a birthday card! I can imagine how much that card would have meant for him. (Since then, he's been sending his birthday greetings to Leena via mail, without fail.)

Leena was recollecting some other incidents related to this, as I was realising how uninterested I remained all these days to my friends and relatives. Immediately, I made up my mind to make an attempt at remembering important dates, and greeting friends.

May be, I will follow her "technique" of remembering: relating a date with something significant. "My b'day is September 12," I said. "Oh, it's a day after September 11 (twin-tower attack)," she already remembered!

Right from sending mails, presenting small, small gifts (She gave me a key-chain, which she bought from Sri Lanka), organising get-togethers with friends, there's a lot to learn from her. #




Thursday, April 29, 2004
      ( 8:04 AM ) sankar  
Her last working day

Tomorrow is Susan's last working day. Suddenly I realise that I will be missing her a lot. In The Prophet, a book of Khalil Gibran, which I am presenting to her, I find these words:

"When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain."



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Friday, April 23, 2004
      ( 6:48 AM ) sankar  
IKKA -

This evening, I was at Fruit Shop on Greams Road (this generic name sounds good!) and while chatting with friends, I remembered Ilaya Perumal, editorial in-charge of Vanigamani, a Tamil magazine that used to be distributed on a weekday along with Dinamani.

He encouraged me very much by publishing my articles on covers. He was the only one, among my Tamil journalist friends, who wanted me to focus on writing in English. Most others were jealous that I was slowly becoming an English journalist. Ilayaperumal said, "There is no future in Tamil journalism. You become an English journalist. If you try, you can even join Indian Express."

Senthilnathan, who was working with India Today then, introduced Meera, who was a reporter with Data Quest Week. I thought getting an article published in English would be a dream come true. Finally, in 1998, it really happened. My first article in English appeared in this weekly (which was just launched). (I think Meera now works for a corporate communication department of some company. Recently someone said she works for a dotcom. Anyway, she could hardly remember me.) How special that I am blogging this from the same DQ Week office!

I think in 1999 I joined Trinity Mirror, thanks to Muthukumar (I think he is a publisher), who recruited me. The salary was Rs.1,500 ("We do have to pay atleast Rs.1500. Because he is staying in a mansion and has to pay for food," Muthukumar recommended Jeeva (his boss) when the latter was contemplating to offer Rs. 1000). While working here, I approached Madras Plus for freelance assignments.

I came to know of this Economic Times' pullout through Suresh Kumar. He was a freelancer then and at that point of time, we both were searching for a permanent job in writing. We had attended several walk-in interviews (ads appeared in The Hindu classifieds under "general" section, every Sunday). Sometime at the end of 1997, we both were hired by Evening Madras as reporters. However, Suresh also attended another interview conducted by News Today and was selected by it. Hence, he joined News Today, a better brand.

I was very happy to see my article appear in Madras Plus. I think it was about noise pollution. However, I was sure about my first story idea I discussed with Sandhya, editorial incharge of Madras Plus. I said I wanted to refute a Time article which, as I understood, said there seemed to be a genetic reason why there were very less number of women smokers. She wanted me to take that up later.

Totally, Madras Plus would have carried a dozen stories. It paid me well. (Rs. 400 per article then). But I had difficulty in finding the right theme for this colorful issue that was meant for hep readers. Sandhya once said, "you are good at reporting. But as far as presentation goes, you have to go a looong way." My stories really tested her patience. I knew that but could not help it.

Language proved to be a problem. I used to go to Land Mark, find out from posters they stick at its entrance about some funny events like fusion music, crazy hobbies, weird clubs - all those hep stuff, and then walk to Madras Plus office (it was a couple of buildings away from Land Mark) to tell Sandhya whether I can write about them. After collecting the inputs from sources, I would go to American Embassy's Library to use its spacious reading hall, dictionaries, reference books, etc to write stories. This was again a few minutes walk away from Sandhya's office. (This way I could proudly say that I was working from a modern, sophisticated, airconditioned office, where I even had secretarial assistance!)

A couple of stories appeared in The Hindu. Sandhya was surprised - and I was even more. At that time, I was staying with Kutti Durai at Kotturpuram, my classmate who is now an architect. He was happy about it. Monday Mart was The Hindu's IT supplement that carried by stories - one was on ERP and the other ....forgot.

I joined Industrial Economist in mid-1999. The Madras Plus stories helped me to get that job. The salary was Rs. 4,000. The previous night I was telling my room mate, Durai, who was a driver that I would refuse to take up the job had the offer was anything less than Rs. 3,500. I did not expect more than that. S Viswanathan, editor, surprised me. I worked there for just 6 months.

In 2000, I joined Indian Express Newspapers Bombay Limited. Jai and Bhuvana (now she is in the US) interviewed and offered the job. The salary was Rs. 5,000. I worked with Anita (she is in Australia) and Sunita (in the US). I learned a lot from both of them. I was not a polished person, urbane or senisitive. But I guess I was manageable because I got along with them perfectly. We were a gang! Life was full of fun!

My first media job was with Madras Noon Times as a correspondent of its neighbourhood magazine, Adyar Noon Times. It was in 1996. Even Suresh was a freelance contributor, while I was a staff. The salary was Rs. 750!

The office was at Moogambikai Complex, Myalopore. I could still manage my life. My luggage was with my friend, Jagadeesh (he is no more) and Kareem. I used to visit his room, at Sabthagiri Mansion, behind Jam Bazaar police station, to wash my clothes for the next week's use. I stayed at office without the knowledge of my boss, Rajalakshmi. My colleague, Ashok, would hand over the office key in the evening. I used to leave office at 6:30, 7:00 and wait outside for Ashok for the key. And go back to office for the night stay after 8:30, 9:00. I used the complex's bathroom (mm...actually toilet!) to take bath.

I cannot recollect a single instance when I felt sad or home sick. Whenever I had no money in my pocket, I was thrilled that I was leading such an cinematic like life. Life as a freelancer was great. I don't feel I am doing 30 percent of whatever I used to do then.

My first job in Chennai, a direct marketing job with Avalanche Marketing, was even more great. It was in 1996, I guess. I sold many items like shoe shocks, toys, etc door to door. (This was only for a few days, though). Here is where they taught the law of average. "If you want to sell a product to one person, meet 10 people" - this is the gist of it.

Then I worked for IMRB, MBA, ORG-Marg as freelance investigator.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004
      ( 9:56 PM ) sankar  
Isn't it science?

"Meipporul kanbathu arivu" - Valluvar
"Suththa arive Sivam" - Bharathiyar

I had the following chat with a friend the other day. The topic is spirituality and science. He seeks anonymity and hence I replaced his name with he. He he he...

umgsankar: is there MSc Economics?
he: thats an academic question - some even ask if science is art or science. it depends on how u define
umgsankar: and what about business writing?
umgsankar: MSc- Business Writing sounds ...?
umgsankar: when it involves so much of analysis why should it be an art
umgsankar: ?
he: The basic thing is how you approach a subject.
he: Science is when you look at some facts, arrive at an hypothesis, test it, test it, test it, test it, test it, test it, test it, test it, test it and so on under various conditions and if the hypothesis holds good even then, you call it a law and build on it further
umgsankar: but to excel in one field one does not need to know whether what he does is science or art as long as he does his job well...right?
he: you didnt get my point. Sceince is an approach
he: A way.
umgsankar: i think i got it
he: There is nothing sacrosanct. Every thing can be questioned. Has to be questioned. Thats how science developed
umgsankar: i said that one does not need to bother to figure out whether it is science or art
he: ok
umgsankar: i first asked this question because someone sent a resume mentioning MSc Economics
umgsankar: It was news to me
umgsankar: I was thinking about it - biz writing is science or art.
umgsankar: i wanted to know ur opinion
umgsankar: as you said it all depends on approach
he: ok - when the stress is in Maths, its MSc Economics/ In fact. almost all Nobel prize winners in Economics are mathematicians
he: Amartya Sen is among the few exceptions
umgsankar: oh ok
he: Approach is in a broader sense.
umgsankar: btw, i want to blog on how spirituality helps one to think critical
he: But awarding degree is based on specifics such as the subjects one studies
umgsankar: oh ok
umgsankar: because, as i find it, spirituality is totally scientific
umgsankar: and this neti neti actually insists on questioning
umgsankar: i will mail you the link once i post a piece on this...
he: Again Sankar, not all approaches in spirituality will help one think critically. Bhakti approach needs a kind of thinking that wont come under normal definition of critical thinking
he: You are talking about Gnana marga - which requires some kind of critical thinking
umgsankar: yes
umgsankar: even bakthi marga sounds scientific. bakthi says "believe in what you do not see and the gift is you will see what you believed." suppose some scientific mind wants to know whether it is right or wrong. in this experiment, he stops being critical, stops questioning only in the pursuit of finding the truth of that statement/hypothesis. do you think it will be unscientific?
he: "believe in what you do not see the gift is you will see what you believed." THIS IS NOT SCIENTIFIC. Look at the implications. Tommorow, if a pharma company gives you a drug saying that it will work if you believe. (if you dont, you will get green spots all over your body, and you might loose your eyesight too) Will you take it.
umgsankar: we are not taking about material things here
umgsankar: take the case of meditation
he: AH ahh...
umgsankar: ?
umgsankar: even gnana marga says that this body is not real...
umgsankar: body is real for us but that does not mean that body is real for a yogi. with our ego we cannot see atman but that doesnt mean there is no atman...
he: Marga is an approach. It doesnt say anything. It just asks you to question whether body is real or not. If you conclude that body is real, Jnana marga will say thats quite fine
umgsankar: hey...my time is out..i am in a browsing centre near home...call me whenever you are free...btw...your jnana marga definition means it will not lead one to an inescapable logical conclusion...i dont think it is correct...


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      ( 9:06 AM ) sankar  
IKKA - Veerabaghu Nagar

Till I was 13, Veerabaghu Nagar, Pettai was my whole world. I studied in Siva Nursery School till fifth. The school was just a few meters away from my home.

Vairamuthu in one of his poems wrote that for children their school teachers are the most beautiful. May be it is true in my case? I do not know but I remember my teachers: Radha, Sheela and Komu. I vividly remember the face of Radha, the fairest of all. They were kind to me. The school headmaster was Kaliappan sir.

I became very popular in the colony when I acted as Dharumi (of Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam) in a school annual day function. Even my father became popular as people identified him as my father.

Sadly, I think that was the first and probably the last time I made my parents proud! (Also, that was most definitely the only pleasant stage experience I ever had.)

My best friends at nursery school were Arasu, Jawahar, Prema and Mangai, residents of the same colony; Nawaz, Sailaja, Kasi, who came to study at my school from nearby places.

Seelan, Selvaraj and Akbar became friends later when I studied at Kamaraj Higher Secondary School, a government school. Kamaal and Kasi were my other classmates.

I had a number of friends in my colony. They were G (a Christian friend and his name was just that single letter!), Palani, Jawahar, Siva (Arasu's elder brother), Chemba, Kutti, Venkat (Palani's brother), Singh, Chini, etc

My neighbours were Rani akka, Sekar annan, Usha, Kala.

Nan Sigappu Manithan

I was (and is) a Rajini fan. My friend Singh was a Kamal fan. I was the treasurer of Nan Sigappu Manithan Rajinikanth Rasigar Mandram. We tried to apply for a proper registration with the thalaimai mandram (head club). We printed club posters - and I still remember its layout, the print shop, etc) and pasted them on compound walls.

Once, I tried to make Singh, a Kamal fan, feel shame by saying "You know, your thalaivar Kamal is a womeniser." I do not know how I got such an impression about Kamal! I must be 12 or 13 year old then. Singh said "Fine, what is wrong with that?" I was not prepared for this answer. This reply came as a shock to me!

Parotta

Parotta was my favourite food item. There were two parotta stalls. The name of the one was Asslam ..the other I do not remember. A parotta cost 50 paise then, I think. We, friends, used to buy parotta parcels and taste without our parents knowledge. But it was very rare.

Hi Arasu

I still have the phone numbers of Arasu (he is now in Mumbai) and my neighbours (Usha, Kala, Chini). It is very much possible to collect their addresses and through them, probably, Jawahar's.
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004
      ( 9:38 PM ) sankar  
Intha Kulaththil Kal Yerinthavargal (IKKY)*

I want to invite everyone I remember for my marriage. I've started writting their names in a note - simultaneously, I have to collect their addresses.

To remember as many people as possible, I am going far down the memoray lane.

(*This is the title of collected poems of Vairamuthu (a Tamil poet) in which he writes about people who influenced him. The literal meaning is "people who threw stone in this pond.")

IKKA- 1 Chekkadi

This is a place at Tirunelveli where our family lived briefly, when I was so young (May be till I was 4 or 5). I could remember the frontal view of the house we stayed and my neighbour who had a son (Bala) and a daughter (Indhra?!?!?). Both of them were older than me, may be, by 10, 12 years. Their father used to be very strict and my folks used to tell me that I should emulate Bala.

I don't think it is that easy to find their address now.
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Thursday, April 01, 2004
      ( 9:23 PM ) sankar  
Beyond God

This is my understanding:

A believer in ‘God,’ a delusion, repents/asks for forgiveness the moment he realises that a mistake is done. Or expects rewards from Him for his good deeds. However, a believer in Brahman never owns ‘himself’ in the first place and hence is not affected by ‘his’ actions – ‘good’ or ‘bad’.



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Wednesday, March 31, 2004
      ( 2:17 AM ) sankar  
Cribbing Sessions

Yesterday and today, I was discussing (cribbing) with my close friends in office about the problems related to my job at the present organisation. There were too many things happening that I did not like.

Today I had a heated discussion - argument, more or less - with my immediate boss and his boss. I was overtly frank, bold, told my friends, who listened to the whole story! "You've just fired your boss," they said. I know its too bad.

From Buffett's Buffet

I am reading a book on writing. The title is "Writing that works." It quotes a business report of Warren Buffett, Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway. He was trying to explain why he is favouring long-term investment over frequent shifts from one investment to another.

He writes: "We have found splendid business relationships to be so rare and so enjoyable that we want to retain all we develop. This decision is particularly easy for us because we feel that these relationships will produce good - though perhaps not optimal - financial results.

Considering that, we think it makes little sense for us to give up time with people we know to be interesting and admirable for time with others we do not know and who are likely to have human qualities far closer to average.

That would be akin to marrying for money - a mistake under most circumstances, insanity if one is already rich."

Another sample was a report he prepared to the shareholders of Salomon Inc - a famous stock broking firm fell into disgrace after a few scandals - in his capacity as the interim chairman. He writes: "I have also urged them (employees) to be guided by a test that goes beyond rules: Contemplating any business act, an employee should ask himself whether he would be willing to see it immediately described by an informed and critical reporter on the front page of his local paper, there to be read by his spouse, children and friends. At Saloman we simply want no part of any activities that pass legal tests but that we, as citizens, would find offensive.

....I believe that we can earn...superior returns playing aggressively in the centre of the court, without resorting to close-to-the-line acrobatics. Good profits simply are not inconsistent with good behaviour."

Wow! I love to be in writing! I love to be in business writing! I love to be in business!



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Monday, March 29, 2004
      ( 9:51 PM ) sankar  
Pebble Therapy

Sunday morning I had to go to handover something important to my sister. Her college is at Vellappanchavadi.

We took a walk to a nearby Shiridi Sai Mandir. Inside the mandir campus, there is a 'small pond of pebbles' with God's vigraham in the centre - the arrangement is something similar to a thulasi maadam. Devotees have to walk on the pebbles bare foot circling the maadam for 9 or 12 times or whatever the board out there suggests.

We took 12 rounds, believe me it feels sooooo good to your feet - it's a deserving massage for them. Once an acupuncture therapist told that one can stay away from most diseases by an hour of bare foot walk a day.

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Monday, March 22, 2004
      ( 12:36 AM ) sankar  
Mirror

Vijay called me this morning and asked me to list out his weaknesses! "I will call you after 15 minutes, you have to tell what faults do you find in me," he sounded as if he had to send a report to his head office and it's some HR appraisal.

Well, it did not sound funny because I used to do the same thing - seeking ratings (on a scale of 1 to 10) from my friends' (and colleagues) to know where do I stand on things like time management, leadership qualities, etc. I have stopped doing this because, I am yet to overcome the shortcomings that I have already known - or made known by my friends - exist.

There is an interesting theory that unless you are wrong you cannot find fault in others. This means the more faults you find the more faults you have. Another dimension to this is, the very fault that you find (in others) does exist in the same manner in you.

I set aside this theory and told him my observations without mincing words, as he expected me to do.

I just recollect this saying, "If you have a true friend, you do not need a mirror." In our polite, diplomatic, urbane world full of etiquettes, protocols, manners, it is indeed find a good friend.







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Sunday, March 21, 2004
      ( 12:49 AM ) sankar  
Maha Periyaval

I am reading a book on Kanchi Maha Periyaval ("Periva" in Bhramincal Tamil) that I bought yesterday. This short book is full of very interesting and truly inspiring anecdotes. #


      ( 12:35 AM ) sankar  
My cup of tea

Opposite to my office building, there are two mobile teashops that sell biscuits, vadai, bajji, cigarette, etc. Since, one of the shops is a supplier to our office, we can have any number of tea or coffee there at free of cost.

Today, when I went to have tea, I saw a notice exhorting (in English and Tamil) the public to use garbage box to keep the place clean. I was surprised to see this and was sure that the teashop wouldn't have done this. The notice is a simple black and white laser printout. But it does not carry the name of the NGO that had taken the effort, which is unusual.

I enquired Deva, the tea master. He said, "One day, a few came in a car, gave us a plastic garbage collection basket, stuck the notice and left." I asked where is the box. "It's not there in the front? Oh! It's Sunday so we kept it inside."

I was thinking about those car-wallahs, who never bothered to seek publicity for their social service. I think they would even object to my usage of the phrase: “social service.” They must have considered it as a duty - more or less.

That’s the spirit. Even I prepared a notice and stuck it in our Men’s toilet asking my colleagues to save water. But my idea of my place is confined only to my office. However, for them it is the whole city.

Well, after my fruitless search for a while for an appropriate place to put my by now used plastic teacup, I hesitantly threw it at the street corner, like anybody else, and returned to office.

You know taking that extra step to insist the garbage basket (which, in this case, is enjoying its holiday) is still an embarrassing thing to do for Indians like me.
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Thursday, March 18, 2004
      ( 8:53 AM ) sankar  
My Rev Guruji

I call her chief. When smsing, I address her Guruji - Rev Guruji. All this is not entirely for fun. At least I will henceforth mean it in every sense of that word.

For she taught me - or may be I've learnt it from her myself completely through observation - something very profound. It is about the importance of listening to the inner voice.

She listens to it and takes crucial decisions in her life based on it. Her belief is so strong that it's finally those temptations that have to suffer a retreat.

For all the spiritual talks that I do and spiritual texts that I religiously go through, I stand empty in front of her practice.

Our ideas of God or spirituality are poles apart though sometimes (in my understanding) they come tantalizingly so close. We will never agree on the basics of certain things. We both have some conceptions that are deep rooted and entrenched for years by the different streams of faiths, readings, culture, language, etc.

Neither of us has the faculty or motivation strong enough to break into each other's beliefs. But that's different. That's not going to matter.

For me her belief in her belief is the inspiration. I told her that "you are a blessed one." Here's someone who says no to a life, which to many of her age will prove irresistible. She says no because she finds that there is "no peace inside" her, whenever she enquired the self about it. She believes that "this is not something that God planned for me."

(If someone reads this, he or she will make no sense of this "she" nor of the "life" this she says no to. Let it be that way.)

She will listen patiently to all her friends' arguments (including that of mine) that she is acting plain stupid. But nothing will make any difference to her.

Yesterday, we had a long conversation - it was so long that I even thought later that I wasted my time, especially since I had some important works to do. I was feeling that way till I went for sleep.

However, this morning, when I woke up early - probably it must be 4:30 or 4:45 - I was for a "spiritual treat." I was still in bed, my eyes closed while some profound thoughts kept emerging one after another. They were like answers to my search, my demands for the understanding.

I believe that the messages of my morning were the direct result of my interactions with her the previous evening.

Following were some of those messages (as I remember now, it was as if someone was telling this to me):

"You are prompted for actions by your thoughts. Understand that those thoughts come from your mind or the "ego" or the doer. Here the doer is not you. You are the self. This doer is someone who embodies fruitless desires of delusions.

Observe those thoughts as a mute spectator. Do not suppress them and at the same time, do not analyse or react to them - as you will remain generating thoughts that way. Thoughts are fine as long as you are not letting them lead to immediate actions.

You can neither escape from the thoughts nor from the actions. Do not make a conscious effort to escape. Otherwise, it would amount to suppression. However, you will have to listen to your inner voice. That inner voice, which is subtle, nevertheless is an ever existent. It is not even a voice - leave alone a hunch, intuition, etc.

To experience this, what probably could not be expressed in words, you will follow a technique, so to speak. This technique will help you to come out of the compelling thought patterns. What is that technique? It is the chanting of His name.

As you start chanting His name, you will sense that the doer (the ego), who is prompting you to act, is not the real you. This doer's prompts you again and again to act. But you will again and again chant His nama. That is, you will chant His name, the moment you get those thought-prompts for action.

This way, inside you there are two things happening: the prompts and the chants.

Now, whats going to happen? Do not expect anything to happen but just chant mentally His name.

After a period of "time", so to say, ultimately the thought-prompts subside and the inner chantings of God's name leads you to listening to the Inner voice. You may feel at peace now. This might mean that you are no more under the compulsion of the thought-prompts.

You may now proceed whether to take up the actions or otherwise. In other words, you are choosing to act and not compelled to."

For someone who was frequently troubled by doubts pertaining to the way of life, the messages were like God sent. At this juncture, this is what could be Karma Yogam. "Doing" things without the sense of "doership" or "enjoyership."

Coming back to her: I know she might think what on earth I am talking about here. And even if she understands the subject (which definitely needs some initiation into Hindu scriptures) to any considerable extent, she must still wonder how I link that to what we had discussed yesterday and in which way. Even I am not sure of, or bothered to find, the link.

All I know now is that there is a way - however incomprehensible to her or others - to listen to the inner voice. This I realised - or reminded of - thanks to my discussion with her.

Her way of listening could be different from that of mine. (Also, by no means I suggest here that I have listened to it so far.)
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Short notes on my official assignments, and records of my experiences and meetings with people, ideas - mostly related to business and spirituality.Work: 28231113-8 (Indian Express)dir: 28225761 Res: 22243348 Mail: umgsankar@yahoo.com/hisankar@sify.com

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